STEAM night inspired students

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The students and families who came to the STEAM night March 5 had an electrifying and hair-raising experience with the fun and educational activities highlighting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Attendees got hands-on experience with a Van De Graaf generator to learn about electricity, drove a robot from the Nashoba High School Robotics Club, saw the workings of a telescope, watched filtering of liquid mixtures, participated in math activities, listened to stories and created crafts.

STEAM night is an annual event attracting more than 100 people and is organized by South Lancaster Academy's Home and School Association. Dionne Blackwell, a parent and engineer who also volunteers her time to lead SLA's Robotics Club, invited the presenters to share their knowledge with the students.

"We were fortunate to have wonderful and enthusiastic presenters that interacted with us and kept everyone excited about their various topics," said Tish Brahmia, science teacher. "It was wonderful watching students' eyes light up as they were able to experience the Van De Graaf machine or control a robot."

Open House for prospective students

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Share the benefits of a Christian education with your friends and neighbors. SLA is holding an Open House for prospective students for all grades, Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade on Tuesday, March 26 from 5:30-8 p.m.

This is an opportunity for students and their families to discover how they could excel at SLA. Learn about the programs available, meet the administrators and faculty, and explore financial aid options.

Schedule of events:

  • 5:30-6:30 p.m.: The Art Fair featuring special artwork from SLA students.

  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Tour both school buildings and meet the teachers in their classrooms.

  • 7-7:30 p.m.: Program overview and financial aid seminar followed by time to go through the guided application process with a staff member. Any student who submits an online application that evening receives a 50 percent discount on the application fee.

Register online at www.mysla.org/openhouse. Walk-ins welcome.

Visitation day for PreK and Kinder kids

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See what a day in school is really like. The Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten are open on Wednesday, March 27 for children to come spend the morning from 8-11:30 a.m. in class.

Children who will be 5 by Sept. 30 are welcome to visit Kindergarten. Children turning 3 or 4 by Sept. 30 and potty-trained are welcome to visit Preschool/Pre-Kindergarten.

Windows 2.0 Gala and Auction, April 28

Blast back to the 80s at South Lancaster Academy's 3rd annual gala and auction. Enjoy dinner and an auction featuring numerous items such as weekend get-aways, adventure experiences, one-of-a-kind art and more. Come dressed for the decade. There will prizes for the best outfits. Join us for a night of fellowship, fun and philanthropic giving.

We continue to offer this year the opportunity to buy a window for your child's classroom. Buy a single window or pool funds with class parents to purchase windows for the entire classroom. Own a business and would like to contribute a window or two? We'll post a plaque showing your sponsorship. $600 for a window pane, $3,000 for a window, $10,000 for a classroom.

This year's proceeds will go towards replacing the 50-year-old windows in the school's elementary building. Our goal is to raise the remaining funds necessary to replace the windows this summer. Help make a difference for your children, your school.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Childcare, with food and entertainment, provided by the senior class for $5. Purchase tickets at www.mysla.org/auction

Academic advising groups guide high school students

SLA began a new guidance program for our high school students this school year.

“We started advisor groups primarily to address the academic needs of our students. Everything from study skills for our Freshmen to college planning for our Seniors,” says Principal David Branum.

Each week, students meet with five or six of their peers and a faculty advisor. They begin their meeting with a short worship followed by discussions about their current academic progress, developing good study habits, time management, scheduling, career preparation, preparing for SATs, applying for college scholarships and the like.

“As it continues to grow, it also provides students with an adult on campus that they can share whatever is on their mind,” says Mr. Branum. “The ultimate goal is that students are better prepared for life from a social, academic, spiritual, and physical perspective.”

Rheannon Grace LeBlanc, Junior, appreciates the valuable advice she is getting in her academic advising group with Tish Brahmia, science teacher. “I like how Mrs. Brahmia takes the time to go over not only study hacks and time management or scheduling, but also how to cope with your anxiety or depression or even how to avoid weighing yourself down and stressing yourself out. She does a happy mix of the both and I appreciate that she not only focuses on our grades but on our mental stability as well. It feels nice to know that someone cares about us as a person and not just as a student.”

Signs of Suicide Prevention Program in place at SLA

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Signs of Suicide Prevention Program in place at SLA

South Lancaster Academy has chosen to implement the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program that helps students, family, school personnel, and our community recognize and better address depression and signs of suicide.

Suicide is the second cause of death in three age groups: 10-14, 15-24 and 25-34. The suicide rate is alarmingly increasing in the 10-14 age bracket. Furthermore, 90 percent who die by suicide have a mental health disorder that is treatable, according to the Center of Disease Control.

"Thinking that this could not be in our community is dangerous," says Ginnie Hakes, vice principal. 

The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program was introduced to our 9th-12th grade students. They learned the risk factors for suicide, myths, and what to do if they or a friend are contemplating suicide. The ACT acronym is a helpful way to remember the steps for helping a friend: Acknowledge, Care and Tell. Acknowledge that the person may be considering suicide and don't ignore a comment as "they're not serious." Show care and empathy for their feelings even if you don't understand them. Tell a trusted adult who can get the person the help he or she needs.

"Our school family is now trained to recognize flagged behavior in a student and ACT to get him/her connected to help," says Mrs. Hakes. "By us all working together we hope to cast an even wider and tighter safety net for our precious young people."

If you would like to learn more information, please contact Mrs. Hakes at vp@mysla.org.

Plant a seed, watch it grow

Opportunities to give and see the benefits take root in the lives of our students

"Remember this--a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop.
But one who plants generously will get a generous crop."
2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT


Think of our school as a garden. Our students are seeds we plant, nurture and see them blossom. We water with the Holy Spirit. We feed with knowledge. We weed with positive discipline. We sow with God's grace.

For 34 hours each week, our teachers nurture 265 students watching them grow to become independent thinkers to know God and develop a Christ-like character for service. That is our mission.

We invite you to partner with us in two new initiatives that will help our students and SLA to flourish. The Committee of 100 and the 1882 Society are both opportunities for you to plant a seed and watch it grow.

Committee of 100
This is an elite group of 100 people who pledge to give $1,000 or more annually to SLA. Each year, we will host a meeting with a meal where members of the Committee of 100 can vote on which capital improvement project they want to direct their funds. Committee of 100 members may receive other special incentives. 

1882 Society
Members of this group pledge to include SLA in their estate planning. This is a way to maintain your assets while you need them and then leave a legacy gift. 

Some of the options to consider in estate planning is a bequest, a charitable remainder trust and a charitable gift annuity. A bequest is written into your will or trust and specifies a gift to be made to the recipient of your choice. Both a charitable remainder trust and a charitable gift annuity provides income to you while making a gift to a nonprofit organization and providing tax benefits. A charitable remainder trust permits you to make a gift of your appreciated property and receive payments during your lifetime. A charitable gift annuity transfers an asset to a nonprofit organization who in turn agrees to make payment to the donor for life. 

If you are interested in either of these opportunities to support our mission at SLA, please contact Shauna Neidigh, Director of Development, at (978) 368-8544, ext. 108 or development@mysla.org.

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Memorial Concert to honor those resting in Jesus

SLA's Music Department, featuring our select choir, Il Voce', and other student musicians will be presenting a special Memorial Concert to honor those in our community who have passed away in the past year. All are invited to attend on March 8 at the College Church. 

Many may not realize the expenses required for purchasing music, instruments, equipment, travel and performances for a successful Music Department that our community enjoys. If you would like to help continue our quality music program, please give a gift to the Music Department.

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Students packed 250 boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Our entire student body packed nearly 200 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Our students donated all of the items they packed and created encouraging notes for  the children that will receive these gifts.

Operation Christmas Child is one of many outreach programs through Samaritan's Purse, a non-denomination Christian organization that gives aid to the world's poor, sick and suffering since 1970.

Our students from all grades brought in gifts such as toys, games, art supplies and hygiene items to pack into shoeboxes to mail to children in more than 100 countries. In less than an hour, the students selected from the donated items to pack 200 boxes, personalizing each for a boy or a girl in a specific age range.

The boxes are sent to a processing center where work stops each hour for a few minutes for volunteers to pray for the children who will receive the gifts.

Pastors around the world host shoebox distributions in places where people may not know Christ, according to Samaritan's Purse. "Other churches use the boxes as resources for outreach in orphanages and other at-risk areas. In many places, they also offer The Greatest Gift a Gospel story booklet Samaritan’s Purse developed for shoebox recipients." states the Samaritan's Purse website.

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Happiness is in giving

It's the time of year when many of us think about our blessings and how to give to others who could benefit. Please consider giving to one of the many worthwhile causes at South Lancaster Academy:

  • Worthy Student Fund. Nearly half of our students are able to attend SLA and receive a quality Christian education thanks to donations to this fund.

  • Mission Trip. Our students are planning a trip to Belize this spring to build a school.

  • Annual Fund. This fund is an opportunity to systematically give monthly or annually to support the mission of SLA. Annual fund donations may be applied to the worthy student fund or operating budget.

  • Windows. We are raising funds to replace the 50-year-old windows in both of our buildings with energy-efficient ones to keep our students warm and comfortable in their learning environments.

  • Bathrooms. Like our windows, our bathrooms are 50-years-old and are in need of updating.

  • Departments. Our athletic department, music department, each class subject, student clubs and organizations can all benefit from specific gifts. 

If you have a desire to support any of these opportunities or to learn more about how you can make a difference for a student at SLA, please contact Shauna Neidigh at development@mysla.org or (978) 368-8544, ext. 108. Or click on the "Donate to SLA" button below.

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35

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Custom new trailer for sale

Custom-built heavy duty 10-foot Wright trailer for sale for $3,500. Constructed with 6-inch steel sub-frame, pressure treated floor and side boards, electric brakes (with brake-away system), heavy duty 225/75 R 15-inch radial tires and wheels, heavy duty axle, 8,000 pound trailer jack, and side step for easy access. Custom built by Wright Trailer in Seekonk, MA.

Proceeds from the sale of the trailer goes toward purchasing an enclosed trailer to be used mainly by our music department as well as our tumbling team, senior survival, and mission trip program. Contact Shauna Neidigh at development@mysla.org or (978) 368-8544, ext. 108.

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Walk-a-Thon raised $12,250

Every other year, the elementary students at SLA participate in a Walk-a-Thon to raise money to improve a specific aspect of their learning experience at school. This year, the students raised $12,250 for a safe ground cover for the playground and new sports equipment.

They got some great exercise while enjoying the fall weather and friendships as they walked numerous laps around the Southern New England Conference campgrounds on Friday, Oct. 12.

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Students help feed 250 families with the Lancaster Holiday Food Drive

South Lancaster Academy students volunteered with the Greater Lancaster Holiday Gift Baskets and Food Drive this month to feed 253 families, encompassing 889 people.

This annual community event brings members of area churches and the school together to provide a week's worth of food for families in need. 

This is a well-coordinated undertaking that requires many steps. SLA students stapled notes on hundreds of grocery bags requesting people to fill the bags with nonperishable food. Then teams of area church members and Pathfinders delivered the bags to homes in Lancaster and Clinton.

The following week, the teams returned to the homes to collect the bags of donated food and brought them to the College Church. There they sorted the food, separating items that were expired and grouping similar food items together.

The next part takes the longest--packing boxes with enough food to feed each family for a week. An individual may get one box, whereas a family of six may get three larger boxes. SLA students helped in this step of packing the boxes and praying for the families receiving the food.

Many students also joined their churches and families in delivering the bags, collecting the food and sorting the donated items.

Each year, volunteers share stories of how the food multiplies and the expressions of gratitude from the recipients.

"When we ran out of an item, we found out that more than what we needed was already on the way to us," said Joyce Malin, one of the volunteer organizers. "Or when beans ran out, I knew more was coming on Sunday."

We're grateful our students have this opportunity to live out Matthew 25:35, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."

Students praying in the Fellowship Hall at the College Church for the families that will receive these boxes of food.

Students praying in the Fellowship Hall at the College Church for the families that will receive these boxes of food.

Four new members to NHS

Congratulations to our newest members of the South Lancaster Academy's chapter of the National Honor Society. They are Emma DeMartino, 2021; Madison Marquez, 2020; Nathan Johnson, 2020; and Christian Williams, 2019.

The National Honor Society (NHS) recognizes students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character. NHS offers scholarships and resources to members to assist in college admission.

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A big, big thank you for supporting Building for Eternity

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Thanks to you our Building for Eternity campaign at South Lancaster Academy raised nearly $750,000 in cash, not including generous donations of time, equipment and labor that likely doubled the dollars. Your gifts:

  • Created a shovel-ready Master Plan with site work approved by the town of Lancaster.

  • Replaced the roof of the elementary building.

  • Removed the underground oil tanks.

  • Connected to Nation Grid, increasing energy incentives.

  • Redesigned both athletic fields and expanded usable playing space.

  • Improved the safety and flow of the pick-up/drop-off zone.

  • Expanded and replaced the parking lot.

As we move forward into our next phase of fundraising, we plan to replace the 50-year-old windows increasing heat efficiency. We will repair and update the bathrooms. And we plan to unite the buildings creating a safer and expanded space for our students.

We are extremely grateful for the support from our church and school family. We know that Adventist education is a powerful ministry creating lifelong followers of Christ. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our children.

Enter to learn. Leave to serve.

Classmates reconnected at Alumni Weekend

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Alumni Association looking for new officers and class representatives

Many of you reconnected with friends this past weekend at our annual Alumni Weekend. We were happy to see you walk the halls of SLA again. 

The class with the largest turnout was the honor class of 1978, celebrating their 40th reunion. A couple of members of the class of 1988 proudly showed up with their letter jackets.

The classes that typically have the best attendance returning for Alumni Weekend are those that have an active class representative who contacts each former student from their class. If you'd like to be a class representative, please contact Shauna Neidigh at development@mysla.org or (978) 368-8544, ext. 108.

According to the bylaws of the Alumni Association, it's time to elect officers. Most of our current officers are stepping down from their roles. We are looking for a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Webmaster for a one-year term. The officers plan the Alumni Weekend, any communication to the alumni and other events at their discretion. If you are interested in giving back to your alma mater in one of these capacities, please contact Shauna Neidigh at development@mysla.org or (978) 368-8544, ext. 108.

Plan now to attend next year's Alumni Weekend on Oct. 11-13, 2019. We will be honoring the classes of 1944, 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2004, 2014. 

Join your friends for Alumni Weekend

Attention all SLA alumni, you are invited to Alumni Weekend, Oct. 5-7. We want to especially encourage those from the honor classes to attend, those classes from years that end in an 8 or a 3. Come and reminisce with classmates while enjoying the fall colors in New England.

The Alumni Association has worked hard to plan a weekend for all to enjoy. See the schedule below:

Friday, Oct. 5
3-6 p.m. Registration at SLA
7:30 p.m. Musical vespers featuring the Youth Ensemble of New England and SLA's il Voce', choir and bell choirs at the College Church

Sabbath, Oct. 6
9:30 a.m. Sabbath School at the College Church
11 a.m. Church service with keynote speaker, Ron Nickerson, class of 1966, at the College Church
1 p.m. Lunch at Thayer
2 p.m. Class pictures at Thayer (classes choose specific locations)
3 p.m. Honor class meetings at SLA
5:30 p.m. Vespers at the Village Church with the class of 1973.
7 p.m. Supper and program at Thayer, including meeting our new principal, David Branum
7:30 p.m. SLA students vs. alumni coed volleyball game at SLA gym
8 p.m. SLA students vs. alumni men's basketball game at SLA gym

Sunday, Oct. 7
9 a.m. Honor classes brunch at The Old Mill, Westminster (optional, with advance reservation ONLY, or alternate plans per class discretion)
9 a.m. to noon, Estate planning appointments with Tom Murray, Director of Planned Giving and Trust Services at Southern New England Conference. Contact Tom Murray at (978) 365-4551, ext. 615 or plannedgiving@sneconline.org to set up an appointment.

Purchase your meal tickets for the Sabbath lunch and/or supper at slaalumni.org before Sept. 17.

We look forward to seeing you at SLA soon!

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Legacy donation buys chimes and refurbishes bells

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Recently, SLA received a donation of $10,000 to the music department from the mother of several alumni. She recognized the value Christian education and music played in her children's lives and left a contribution to SLA in her will. With these funds, we can buy new chimes, refurbish the much-used bells and purchase bell table covers. We are so grateful for this generous gift and will use it to further enhance the meaningful musical instruction and music ministry our students enjoy.

Have you considered supporting SLA in your estate planning? Some of the options to consider in estate planning are a bequest, a charitable remainder trust and a charitable gift annuity. A bequest is written into your will or trust and specifies a gift to be made to the recipient of your choice. Both the charitable remainder trust and charitable gift annuity provides income to you while making a gift to a nonprofit organization and providing tax benefits. A charitable remainder trust permits you to make a gift of your appreciatied property and recive payments during your lifetime. A charitable gift annuity transfers an asset to a nonprofit organization who in turn agrees to make payment to the donor for life.

Tom Murray, Director of Planned Giving and Trust Services at Southern New England Conference, will be available during Alumni Weekend to meet with anyone who would like to learn more about planned giving or to set up a trust or will. Please contact him to schedule an appointment for Sunday, Oct. 7, while you're in town. 

If you have any questions regarding planned giving, or  would like to schedule an appointment during Alumni Weekend, please contact Tom Murray at (978) 365-4551, ext. 615 or plannedgiving@sneconline.org.

Pastor Caine is newest religion teacher and chaplain

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Damali Caine

I believe that God is calling me to an in-depth, in-reach ministry, and that’s the classroom. I get the opportunity to look them in the eye, to see the questions, to figure it out and answer it together. We do Bible study together.

Intentionality. That word pops up frequently in conversation with Pastor Damali Caine when talking about what's important to her. "We have to be more intentional about helping each other and in turn as we help each other we draw closer to Christ. I am intentional about relationship so much that when I teach the students I want them to see Christ for who He is in real form. That He is just as much present as He is in the Bible."

This has so much value to her because she's seen many young people leave their Christian faith. While growing up, she realized that many Christians gave the appearance of being very spiritual without being transparent about their Christian walk.

"They made it seem like they just appeared to be very spiritual and it just happened overnight, not knowing that it took time. That discouraged a lot of my peers because you thought that Christianity was unattainable," said Pastor Caine. "I want the students to know that a walk and a relationship with God is attainable."

That's also why Pastor Caine has chosen to teach religion rather than doing pastoral ministry. "I believe that God is calling me to an in-depth, in-reach ministry, and that's the classroom. There are a lot of students that if I was preaching from the pulpit I wouldn't be able to have real-life connection with. Teaching in the classroom I get the opportunity to look them in the eye, to see the questions, to figure it out and answer it together. We do Bible study together."

A new offering in the religion department at SLA is the option for one-on-one counseling. There is a class period available each day for students to talk with Pastor Caine. Pastor Caine, who holds a master's degree in human services counseling with an emphasis on marriage and family, has set up a safe space in the back of the classroom with a couple of bean bags.

"It's a cozy little corner where they have the opportunity to come and relax, and if there's any questions or concerns or anything they want to talk about, that little corner presents a different space than the rest of the desks and tables here. We can chat about anything they're going through," said Pastor Caine. "If there's any student who comes and expresses things that I feel I'm not able to handle, immediately I will let the principal know so that they can seek some outside counseling."

Pastor Caine is impressed with the Campus Ministries program already in place at SLA. She's looking at how she can enhance it, such as additional community service initiatives. For instance, she plans to do Operation Christmas Child with the Samaritan's Purse and has the goal of packing 300 shoeboxes with the students. She also plans on organizing mission trips, hopefully beginning next year.

Pastor Caine and her husband, Eric, have a two-year-old son, Nathan, who keeps them busy. The family moved here from Pine Forge Academy where Pastor Caine taught religion and Eric was assistant boys dean for the past three years. Pastor Caine also taught at Greater New York Academy and Union Springs Academy.